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1.  Estradiol and mTORC2 cooperate to enhance prostaglandin biosynthesis and tumorigenesis in TSC2-deficient LAM cells 
Estradiol enhances COX-2 expression and prostaglandin biosynthesis in TSC2-deficient cells via a rapamycin-insensitive, mTORC2-dependent mechanism.
Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a progressive neoplastic disorder that leads to lung destruction and respiratory failure primarily in women. LAM is typically caused by tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2) mutations resulting in mTORC1 activation in proliferative smooth muscle–like cells in the lung. The female predominance of LAM suggests that estradiol contributes to disease development. Metabolomic profiling identified an estradiol-enhanced prostaglandin biosynthesis signature in Tsc2-deficient (TSC−) cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Estradiol increased the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a rate-limiting enzyme in prostaglandin biosynthesis, which was also increased at baseline in TSC-deficient cells and was not affected by rapamycin treatment. However, both Torin 1 treatment and Rictor knockdown led to reduced COX-2 expression and phospho-Akt-S473. Prostaglandin production was also increased in TSC-deficient cells. In preclinical models, both Celecoxib and aspirin reduced tumor development. LAM patients had significantly higher serum prostaglandin levels than healthy women. 15-epi-lipoxin-A4 was identified in exhaled breath condensate from LAM subjects and was increased by aspirin treatment, indicative of functional COX-2 expression in the LAM airway. In vitro, 15-epi-lipoxin-A4 reduced the proliferation of LAM patient–derived cells in a dose-dependent manner. Targeting COX-2 and prostaglandin pathways may have therapeutic value in LAM and TSC-related diseases, and possibly in other conditions associated with mTOR hyperactivation.
doi:10.1084/jem.20131080
PMCID: PMC3892971  PMID: 24395886
2.  Equivalent benefit of rapamycin and a potent mTOR ATP-competitive inhibitor, MLN0128 (INK128), in a mouse model of tuberous sclerosis 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2013;11(5):467-473.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a hamartoma syndrome in which brain, renal and lung tumors develop and cause both morbidity and death. Loss of either TSC1 or TSC2 in TSC hamartomas leads to activation of mTORC1. Rapamycin and related drugs have been shown to have clinical benefit for these tumors in TSC patients and those with sporadic forms of TSC-related neoplasms. However, lifelong therapy appears to be required, as tumors are not eliminated by this treatment. We examined the potential benefit of MLN0128, a novel potent mTOR ATP-competitive inhibitor, as a therapeutic strategy for renal cystadenomas that develop in A/J Tsc2+/− mice. Rapamycin given by intraperitoneal injection at 3 mg/kg 3 times per week, and MLN0128 given by gavage at 0.75 mg/kg 5 times per week had equivalent effects in suppressing tumor development during a 4 week treatment period, with an approximate 99% reduction in microscopic tumor cell volume. Marked reduction in activation of mTORC1, and blockade of cell growth was seen with both drugs, while only MLN0128 treatment had effects in blocking mTORC2 and 4EBP1 phosphorylation. However, when either drug was discontinued and mice were observed for two additional months, there was dramatic recovery of tumor growth, with extensive proliferation. Hence, long-lasting tumor growth control is not achieved with transient treatment with either drug, and MLN0128 and rapamycin have equivalent therapeutic benefit in this mouse model. Differences in side-effect profiles might make MLN0128 more attractive for treatment of patients with TSC-related tumors, but will require additional study in humans.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0605
PMCID: PMC3657392  PMID: 23386687
TSC; mTOR; INK128; rapamycin; MLN0128
3.  Design and Generation of MLPA Probe Sets for Combined Copy Number and Small-Mutation Analysis of Human Genes: EGFR as an Example 
TheScientificWorldJournal  2010;10:2003-2018.
Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a multiplex copy number analysis method that is routinely used to identify large mutations in many clinical and research labs. One of the most important drawbacks of the standard MLPA setup is a complicated, and therefore expensive, procedure of generating long MLPA probes. This drawback substantially limits the applicability of MLPA to those genomic regions for which ready-to-use commercial kits are available. Here we present a simple protocol for designing MLPA probe sets that are composed entirely of short oligonucleotide half-probes generated through chemical synthesis. As an example, we present the design and generation of an MLPA assay for parallel copy number and small-mutation analysis of the EGFR gene.
doi:10.1100/tsw.2010.195
PMCID: PMC4004796  PMID: 20953551
multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification; MLPA; copy number variation; CNV; EGFR; large deletion; amplification; mutation detection
4.  Extrarenal perivascular epithelioid cell tumors (PEComas) respond to mTOR inhibition: Clinical and molecular correlates 
Perivascular epithelioid cell tumors (PEComas) are a group of rare mesenchymal tumors that typically show both melanocytic and smooth muscle cell features. Some types of PEComa are seen at high frequency in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). The TSC1 and TSC2 genes are commonly mutated in both TSC-associated and sporadic PEComas, and mTOR signaling pathway activation is also common in these tumors. Preliminary reports have indicated that the mTOR inhibitors sirolimus and related drugs have activity in some patients with non-TSC-associated PEComa.
Here we report on the use of these medications in the treatment of five consecutive patients with extrarenal non-pulmonary PEComas seen at one institution. Three complete responses, one partial response and one case of progression were seen. Molecular studies identified TSC2 aberrations in four of these patients, and TFE3 translocation was excluded in the resistant case. A review of all published cases as well as those reported here indicates that partial or complete response was seen in 6 of 11 PEComas, with 5 of the 6 having a complete response. These findings highlight the consistent though incomplete activity of mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of PEComas.
doi:10.1002/ijc.27800
PMCID: PMC3558545  PMID: 22927055
perivascular epithelioid cell tumor; PEComa; mTOR; TSC2; sirolimus; everolimus
6.  Molecular dissection of AKT activation in lung cancer cell lines 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2013;11(3):282-293.
AKT is a critical signaling node downstream of PI3K, which is often activated in cancer. We analyzed the state of activation of AKT in 80 human non-small cell lung cancer cell lines under serum starvation conditions. We identified 13 lines which showed persistent AKT activation in the absence of serum. In 12 of the 13 lines, AKT activation could be attributed to loss of PTEN, activating mutation in EGFR or PIK3CA, or amplification of ERBB2. HCC2429 was the only cell line that had no alterations in those genes, but had high phospho-AKT(Ser473) levels under serum starvation conditions. However, the activation of AKT in HCC2429 was PI3K- and mTORC2-dependent based upon use of specific inhibitors. Kinome tyrosine phosphorylation profiling showed that both Notch and SRC were highly activated in this cell line. Despite the activation of Notch, AKT activation and cell survival were not affected by Notch inhibitors DAPT or Compound E. In contrast, SRC inhibitors PP2 and dasatinib both significantly decreased pAKT(Ser473) levels and reduced cell survival by inducing apoptosis. Further, a combination of SRC and mTOR inhibition synergistically blocked activation of AKT and induced apoptosis. Over-expression of SRC has been identified previously in human lung cancers, and these results suggest that a combination of SRC and mTOR inhibitors may have unique therapeutic benefit for a subset of lung cancers with these molecular features.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0558
PMCID: PMC3606262  PMID: 23319332
lung cancer; AKT; mTOR; SRC; rapamycin; Torin1
7.  Prenatal rapamycin results in early and late behavioral abnormalities in wildtype C57Bl/6 mice 
Behavior genetics  2012;43(1):51-59.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling has been shown to be deregulated in a number of genetic, neurodevelopmental disorders including Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, Neurofibromatosis, Fragile X, and Rett syndromes. As a result, mTOR inhibitors, such as rapamycin and its analogs, offer potential therapeutic avenues for these disorders. Some of these disorders – such as Tuberous Sclerosis Complex – can be diagnosed prenatally. Thus, prenatal administration of these inhibitors could potentially prevent the development of the devastating symptoms associated with these disorders. To assess the possible detrimental effects of prenatal rapamycin treatment, we evaluated both early and late behavioral effects of a single rapamycin treatment at embryonic day 16.5 in wildtype C57Bl/6 mice. This treatment adversely impacted early developmental milestones as well as motor function in adult animals. Rapamycin also resulted in anxiety-like behaviors during both early development and adulthood but did not affect adult social behaviors. Together, these results indicate that a single, prenatal rapamycin treatment not only adversely affects early postnatal development but also results in long lasting negative effects, persisting into adulthood. These findings are of importance in considering prenatal administration of rapamycin and related drugs in the treatment of patients with neurogenetic, neurodevelopmental disorders.
doi:10.1007/s10519-012-9571-9
PMCID: PMC3554236  PMID: 23229624
mTOR; tuberous sclerosis; embryonic; mouse
8.  The introduction of systematic genomic testing for patients with non-small cell lung cancer 
Background
Genomic testing to identify driver mutations that enable targeted therapy is emerging for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We report the implementation of systematic prospective genotyping for somatic alterations in BRAF, PIK3CA, HER2, and ALK, in addition to EGFR and KRAS, in NSCLC patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Methods
Patients with NSCLC were prospectively referred by their providers for clinical genotyping. Formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded tumor samples were analyzed by Sanger sequencing for mutations in selected exons of EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, and HER2. ALK rearrangements were detected by FISH or immunohistochemistry.
Results
Between 7/1/2009 and 8/1/2010, 427 specimens from 419 patients were referred for genomic characterization; 344 (81%) specimens were successfully genotyped with a median turnaround time of 31 days (range, 9-155). Of the 344 specimens, 185 (54%) had at least one identifiable somatic alteration (KRAS: 24%, EGFR: 17%, ALK: 5%, BRAF: 5%, HER2: 4%, PIK3CA: 2%). As of 8/1/2011, 63/288 (22%) advanced NSCLC patients had received molecularly targeted therapy based on their genotypic results, including 34/42 (81%) patients with EGFR mutations, 12/15 (80%) with ALK rearrangements, and 17/95 (18%) with KRAS, BRAF or HER2 mutations.
Conclusions
Large scale testing for somatic alterations in EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, HER2 and ALK is feasible and impacts therapeutic decisions. As the repertoire for personalized therapies expands in lung cancer and other malignancies, there is a need to develop new genomics technologies that can generate a comprehensive genetic profile of tumor specimens in a time and cost effective manner.
doi:10.1097/JTO.0b013e3182745bcb
PMCID: PMC3500523  PMID: 23154547
Lung cancer; cancer genomics; molecular targeted therapy
9.  Correction: Stochastic Model of Tsc1 Lesions in Mouse Brain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):10.1371/annotation/6a5b0a50-27e4-49bc-b82a-9267dd63af53.
doi:10.1371/annotation/6a5b0a50-27e4-49bc-b82a-9267dd63af53
PMCID: PMC3821742  PMID: 24244248
10.  Graded loss of tuberin in an allelic series of brain models of TSC correlates with survival, and biochemical, histological and behavioral features 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(19):4286-4300.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with prominent brain manifestations due to mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2. Here, we describe novel mouse brain models of TSC generated using conditional hypomorphic and null alleles of Tsc2 combined with the neuron-specific synapsin I cre (SynIcre) allele. This allelic series of homozygous conditional hypomorphic alleles (Tsc2c-del3/c-del3SynICre+) and heterozygote null/conditional hypomorphic alleles (Tsc2k/c-del3SynICre+) achieves a graded reduction in expression of Tsc2 in neurons in vivo. The mice demonstrate a progressive neurologic phenotype including hunchback, hind limb clasp, reduced survival and brain and cortical neuron enlargement that correlates with a graded reduction in expression of Tsc2 in the two sets of mice. Both models also showed behavioral abnormalities in anxiety, social interaction and learning assays, which correlated with Tsc2 protein levels as well. The observations demonstrate that there are graded biochemical, cellular and clinical/behavioral effects that are proportional to the extent of reduction in Tsc2 expression in neurons. Further, they suggest that some patients with milder manifestations of TSC may be due to persistent low-level expression of functional protein from their mutant allele. In addition, they point to the potential clinical benefit of strategies to raise TSC2 protein expression from the wild-type allele by even modest amounts.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds262
PMCID: PMC3441124  PMID: 22752306
11.  Mapping the hallmarks of lung adenocarcinoma with massively parallel sequencing 
Cell  2012;150(6):1107-1120.
SUMMARY
Lung adenocarcinoma, the most common subtype of non-small cell lung cancer, is responsible for over 500,000 deaths per year worldwide. Here, we report exome and genome sequences of 183 lung adenocarcinoma tumor/normal DNA pairs. These analyses revealed a mean exonic somatic mutation rate of 12.0 events/megabase and identified the majority of genes previously reported as significantly mutated in lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, we identified statistically recurrent somatic mutations in the splicing factor gene U2AF1 and truncating mutations affecting RBM10 and ARID1A. Analysis of nucleotide context-specific mutation signatures grouped the sample set into distinct clusters that correlated with smoking history and alterations of reported lung adenocarcinoma genes. Whole genome sequence analysis revealed frequent structural re-arrangements, including in-frame exonic alterations within EGFR and SIK2 kinases. The candidate genes identified in this study are attractive targets for biological characterization and therapeutic targeting of lung adenocarcinoma.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2012.08.029
PMCID: PMC3557932  PMID: 22980975
12.  TBC1D7 is a third subunit of the TSC1-TSC2 complex upstream of mTORC1 
Molecular cell  2012;47(4):535-546.
SUMMARY
The tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) tumor suppressors form the TSC1-TSC2 complex, which limits cell growth in response to poor growth conditions. Through its GTPase-activating protein (GAP) activity toward Rheb, this complex inhibits the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1), a key promoter of cell growth. Here, we identify and biochemically characterize TBC1D7 as a stably-associated and ubiquitous third core subunit of the TSC1-TSC2 complex. We demonstrate that the TSC1-TSC2-TBC1D7 (TSC-TBC) complex is the functional complex that senses specific cellular growth conditions and possesses Rheb-GAP activity. Sequencing analyses of samples from TSC patients suggest that TBC1D7 is unlikely to represent TSC3. TBC1D7 knockdown decreases the association of TSC1 and TSC2 leading to decreased Rheb-GAP activity, without effects on the localization of TSC2 to the lysosome. Like the other TSC-TBC components, TBC1D7 knockdown results in increased mTORC1 signaling, delayed induction of autophagy, and enhanced cell growth under poor growth conditions.
doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2012.06.009
PMCID: PMC3693578  PMID: 22795129
13.  Chronic Activation of mTOR Complex 1 is Sufficient to Cause Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Science signaling  2012;5(217):ra24.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1) is a nutrient sensitive protein kinase that is aberrantly activated in many human cancers. However, whether dysregulation of mTORC1 signaling in normal tissues contributes to cancer risk is unknown. Here, we focused on hepatocellular carcinoma because it is a cancer with clear links to environmental factors that affect mTORC1, including dietary influences. Genetic ablation of the mTORC1 inhibitory component Tsc1 results in constitutively elevated mTORC1 signaling, an effect similar to that of obesity on this pathway. We found that mice with liver-specific knockout of Tsc1 developed sporadic hepatocellular carcinoma with heterogeneous histological and biochemical features. The spontaneous development of hepatocellular carcinoma in this mouse model was preceded by a series of pathological changes known to accompany the primary etiologies of this cancer, including liver damage, inflammation, necrosis, and regeneration. Chronic mTORC1 signaling caused unresolved endoplasmic reticulum stress and defects in autophagy, which contributed to hepatocyte damage and hepatocellular carcinoma development. Therefore, we demonstrate a previously unrecognized role for mTORC1 in carcinogenesis, perhaps representing a key molecular link between cancer risk and environmental factors, such as diet.
doi:10.1126/scisignal.2002739
PMCID: PMC3743103  PMID: 22457330
14.  IL10 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated With Asthma Phenotypes in Children 
Genetic epidemiology  2004;26(2):155-165.
IL10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that has been found to have lower production in macrophages and mononuclear cells from asthmatics. Since reduced IL10 levels may influence the severity of asthma phenotypes, we examined IL10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with asthma severity and allergy phenotypes as quantitative traits. Utilizing DNA samples from 518 Caucasian asthmatic children from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) and their parents, we genotyped six IL10 SNPs: 3 in the promoter, 2 in introns, and one in the 3′ UTR. Using family-based association tests, each SNP was tested for association with asthma and allergy phenotypes individually. Population-based association analysis was performed with each SNP locus, the promoter haplotypes and the 6-loci haplotypes. The 3′ UTR SNP was significantly associated with FEV1 as a percent of predicted (FEV1PP) (P=0.0002) in both the family and population analyses. The promoter haplotype GCC was positively associated with IgE levels and FEV1PP (P=0.007 and 0.012, respectively). The promoter haplotype ATA was negatively associated with lnPC20 and FEV1PP (P=0.008 and 0.043, respectively). Polymorphisms in IL10 are associated with asthma phenotypes in this cohort. Further studies of variation in the IL10 gene may help elucidate the mechanism of asthma development in children.
doi:10.1002/gepi.10298
PMCID: PMC3705717  PMID: 14748015
interleukin 10 (IL10); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); genetic association; family-based association test (FBAT); haplotype; promoter; 3′; untranslated region (3′UTR)
15.  Leydig Cell Tumor of the Testis in Tuberous Sclerosis: Lack of Second Hit Events 
The Oncologist  2012;17(7):927-929.
This article presents the case of an adult patient with tuberous sclerosis complex who presented with large right benign and left malignant Leydig cell tumors. The tumors were examined to determine if they showed the classic hallmarks of TSC1/TSC2 involvement.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2012-0045
PMCID: PMC3399648  PMID: 22707517
Tuberous sclerosis; Leydig cell tumor; TSC1
16.  Stochastic Model of Tsc1 Lesions in Mouse Brain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64224.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant disorder due to mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 that affects many organs with hamartomas and tumors. TSC-associated brain lesions include subependymal nodules, subependymal giant cell astrocytomas and tubers. Neurologic manifestations in TSC comprise a high frequency of mental retardation and developmental disorders including autism, as well as epilepsy. Here, we describe a new mouse model of TSC brain lesions in which complete loss of Tsc1 is achieved in multiple brain cell types in a stochastic pattern. Injection of an adeno-associated virus vector encoding Cre recombinase into the cerebral ventricles of mice homozygous for a Tsc1 conditional allele on the day of birth led to reduced survival, and pathologic findings of enlarged neurons, cortical heterotopias, subependymal nodules, and hydrocephalus. The severity of clinical and pathologic findings as well as survival was shown to be dependent upon the dose and serotype of Cre virus injected. Although several other models of TSC brain disease exist, this model is unique in that the pathology reflects a variety of TSC-associated lesions involving different numbers and types of cells. This model provides a valuable and unique addition for therapeutic assessment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064224
PMCID: PMC3655945  PMID: 23696872
17.  Akt stimulates hepatic SREBP1c and lipogenesis through parallel mTORC1-dependent and independent pathways 
Cell metabolism  2011;14(1):21-32.
Through unknown mechanisms, insulin activates the sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP1c) transcription factor to promote hepatic lipogenesis. We find that this induction is dependent on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1). To further define the role of mTORC1 in the regulation of SREBP1c in the liver, we generated mice with liver-specific deletion of TSC1 (LTsc1KO), which results in insulin-independent activation of mTORC1. Surprisingly, the LTsc1KO mice are protected from age- and diet-induced hepatic steatosis and display hepatocyte-intrinsic defects in SREBP1c activation and de novo lipogenesis. These phenotypes result from attenuation of Akt signaling driven by mTORC1-dependent insulin resistance. Therefore, mTORC1 activation is not sufficient to stimulate hepatic SREBP1c in the absence of Akt signaling, revealing the existence of an additional downstream pathway also required for this induction. We provide evidence that this mTORC1-independent pathway involves Akt-mediated suppression of Insig2a, a liver-specific transcript encoding the SREBP1c inhibitor INSIG2.
doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2011.06.002
PMCID: PMC3652544  PMID: 21723501
19.  Genotype and cognitive phenotype of patients with tuberous sclerosis complex 
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant, multisystem disorder, which affects 1 in 6000 people. About half of these patients are affected by mental retardation, which has been associated with TSC2 mutations, epilepsy severity and tuber burden. The bimodal intelligence distribution in TSC populations suggests the existence of subgroups with distinct pathophysiologies, which remain to be identified. Furthermore, it is unknown if heterozygous germline mutations in TSC2 can produce the neurocognitive phenotype of TSC independent of epilepsy and tubers. Genotype–phenotype correlations may help to determine risk profiles and select patients for targeted treatments. A retrospective chart review was performed, including a large cohort of 137 TSC patients who received intelligence assessment and genetic mutation analysis. The distribution of intellectual outcomes was investigated for selected genotypes. Genotype–neurocognitive phenotype correlations were performed and associations between specific germline mutations and intellectual outcomes were compared. Results showed that TSC1 mutations in the tuberin interaction domain were significantly associated with lower intellectual outcomes (P<0.03), which was also the case for TSC2 protein-truncating and hamartin interaction domain mutations (both P<0.05). TSC2 missense mutations and small in-frame deletions were significantly associated with higher IQ/DQs (P<0.05). Effects related to the mutation location within the TSC2 gene were found. These findings suggest that TSC2 protein-truncating mutations and small in-frame mutations are associated with distinctly different intelligence profiles, providing further evidence that different types and locations of TSC germline mutations may be associated with distinct neurocognitive phenotypes.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.241
PMCID: PMC3330219  PMID: 22189265
tuberous sclerosis; cognition; epilepsy; phenotype
20.  Identification of Nine Genomic Regions of Amplification in Urothelial Carcinoma, Correlation with Stage, and Potential Prognostic and Therapeutic Value 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60927.
We performed a genome wide analysis of 164 urothelial carcinoma samples and 27 bladder cancer cell lines to identify copy number changes associated with disease characteristics, and examined the association of amplification events with stage and grade of disease. Multiplex inversion probe (MIP) analysis, a recently developed genomic technique, was used to study 80 urothelial carcinomas to identify mutations and copy number changes. Selected amplification events were then analyzed in a validation cohort of 84 bladder cancers by multiplex ligation-dependent probe assay (MLPA). In the MIP analysis, 44 regions of significant copy number change were identified using GISTIC. Nine gene-containing regions of amplification were selected for validation in the second cohort by MLPA. Amplification events at these 9 genomic regions were found to correlate strongly with stage, being seen in only 2 of 23 (9%) Ta grade 1 or 1–2 cancers, in contrast to 31 of 61 (51%) Ta grade 3 and T2 grade 2 cancers, p<0.001. These observations suggest that analysis of genomic amplification of these 9 regions might help distinguish non-invasive from invasive urothelial carcinoma, although further study is required. Both MIP and MLPA methods perform well on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded DNA, enhancing their potential clinical use. Furthermore several of the amplified genes identified here (ERBB2, MDM2, CCND1) are potential therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060927
PMCID: PMC3617176  PMID: 23593348
21.  Therapeutic value of prenatal rapamycin treatment in a mouse brain model of tuberous sclerosis complex 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(23):4597-4604.
Epileptic seizures, particularly infantile spasms, are often seen in infants with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) soon after birth. It is feared that there are long-term developmental and cognitive consequences from ongoing, frequent epilepsy. In addition, the hallmark brain pathology of TSC, cortical tubers and giant cells are fully developed at late gestational ages. These observations have led us to examine the benefit of prenatal rapamycin in a new fetal brain model of TSC. In this Tsc1cc Nes-cre+ mouse model, recombination and loss of Tsc1 in neural progenitor cells leads to brain enlargement, hyperactivation of mTOR, and neonatal death on P0 due to reduced pup–maternal interaction. A single dose of prenatal rapamycin given to pregnant dams (1 mg/kg, subcutaneous) rescued the lethality of mutant mice. This one dose of prenatal rapamycin treatment reduced hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway in the mutant brain without causing apparent pregnancy loss. Continued postnatal rapamycin beginning at day 8 extended the survival of these mice to a median of 12 days with complete suppression of hyperactive mTOR. However, the rapamycin-treated mutants developed enlarged brains with an increased number of brain cells, displaying marked runting and developmental delay. These observations demonstrate the therapeutic benefit and limitations of prenatal rapamycin in a prenatal-onset brain model of TSC. Our data also suggest the possibility and limitations of this approach for TSC infants and mothers.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr393
PMCID: PMC3209830  PMID: 21890496
22.  An efficient and versatile system for acute and chronic modulation of renal tubular function in transgenic mice 
Nature medicine  2008;14(9):979-984.
We describe a transgenic mouse line, Pax8-rtTA, which, under control of the mouse Pax8 promoter, directs high levels of expression of the reverse tetracycline–dependent transactivator (rtTA) to all proximal and distal tubules and the entire collecting duct system of both embryonic and adult kidneys. Using crosses of Pax8-rtTA mice with tetracycline-responsive c-MYC mice, we established a new, inducible model of polycystic kidney disease that can mimic adult onset and that shows progression to renal malignant disease. When targeting the expression of transforming growth factor-β1 to the kidney, we avoided early lethality by discontinuous treatment and successfully established an inducible model of renal fibrosis. Finally, a conditional knockout of the gene encoding tuberous sclerosis complex-1 was achieved, which resulted in the early outgrowth of giant polycystic kidneys reminiscent of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. These experiments establish Pax8-rtTA mice as a powerful tool for modeling renal diseases in transgenic mice.
doi:10.1038/nm.1865
PMCID: PMC3446847  PMID: 18724376
23.  Increased AKT S473 phosphorylation after mTORC1 inhibition is rictor dependent and does not predict tumor cell response to PI3K/mTOR inhibition 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(4):742-753.
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates cellular processes important for progression of human cancer. RAD001 (everolimus), an mTORC1 (mTOR/raptor) inhibitor, has broad antitumor activity in preclinical models and cancer patients. Although most tumor lines are RAD001 sensitive, some are not. Selective mTORC1 inhibition can elicit increased AKT S473 phosphorylation, involving insulin receptor substrate 1, which is suggested to potentially attenuate effects on tumor cell proliferation and viability. Rictor may also play a role because rictor kinase complexes (including mTOR/rictor) regulate AKT S473 phosphorylation. The role of raptor and rictor in the in vitro response of human cancer cells to RAD001 was investigated. Using a large panel of cell lines representing different tumor histotypes, the basal phosphorylation of AKT S473 and some AKT substrates was found to correlate with the antiproliferative response to RAD001. In contrast, increased AKT S473 phosphorylation induced by RAD001 did not correlate. Similar increases in AKT phosphorylation occurred following raptor depletion using siRNA. Strikingly, rictor down-regulation attenuated AKT S473 phosphorylation induced by mTORC1 inhibition. Further analyses showed no relationship between modulation of AKT phosphorylation on S473 and T308 and AKTsubstrate phosphorylation patterns. Using a dual pan-class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/mTOR catalytic inhibitor (NVP-BEZ235), currently in phase I trials, concomitant targeting of these kinases inhibited AKT S473 phosphorylation, eliciting more profound cellular responses than mTORC1 inhibition alone. However, reduced cell viability could not be predicted from biochemical or cellular responses to mTORC1 inhibitors. These data could have implications for the clinical application of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/mTOR inhibitors.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0668
PMCID: PMC3440776  PMID: 19372546
24.  Smooth muscle protein-22-mediated deletion of Tsc1 results in cardiac hypertrophy that is mTORC1-mediated and reversed by rapamycin 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(7):1290-1305.
Constitutive activation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a key kinase complex that regulates cell size and growth, is observed with inactivating mutations of either of the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) genes, Tsc1 and Tsc2. Tsc1 and Tsc2 are highly expressed in cardiovascular tissue but their functional role there is unknown. We generated a tissue-specific knock-out of Tsc1, using a conditional allele of Tsc1 and a cre recombinase allele regulated by the smooth muscle protein-22 (SM22) promoter (Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/−) to constitutively activate mTOR in cardiovascular tissue. Significant gene recombination (∼80%) occurred in the heart by embryonic day (E) 15, and reduction in Tsc1 expression with increased levels of phosphorylated S6 kinase (S6K) and S6 was observed, consistent with constitutive activation of mTORC1. Cardiac hypertrophy was evident by E15 with post-natal progression to heart weights of 142 ± 24 mg in Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/− mice versus 65 ± 14 mg in controls (P < 0.01). Median survival of Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/− mice was 24 days, with none surviving beyond 6 weeks. Pathologic and echocardiographic analysis revealed severe biventricular hypertrophy without evidence of fibrosis or myocyte disarray, and significant reduction in the left ventricular end-diastolic diameter (P < 0.001) and fractional index (P < 0.001). Inhibition of mTORC1 by rapamycin resulted in prolonged survival of Tsc1c/cSM22cre+/− mice, with regression of ventricular hypertrophy. These data support a critical role for the Tsc1/Tsc2-mTORC1-S6K axis in the normal development of cardiovascular tissue and also suggest possible therapeutic potential of rapamycin in cardiac disorders where pathologic mTORC1 activation occurs.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq570
PMCID: PMC3049352  PMID: 21212099
25.  Therapeutic Trial of Metformin and Bortezomib in a Mouse Model of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31900.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a human genetic disorder in which loss of either TSC1 or TSC2 leads to development of hamartoma lesions, which can progress and be life-threatening or fatal. The TSC1/TSC2 protein complex regulates the state of activation of mTORC1. Tsc2+/− mice develop renal cystadenoma lesions which grow progressively. Both bortezomib and metformin have been proposed as potential therapeutics in TSC. We examined the potential benefit of 1 month treatment with bortezomib, and 4 month treatment with metformin in Tsc2+/− mice. Results were compared to vehicle treatment and treatment with the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin for 1 month. We used a quantitative tumor volume measurement on stained paraffin sections to assess the effect of these drugs. The median tumor volume per kidney was decreased by 99% in mice treated with rapamycin (p = 0.0004). In contrast, the median tumor volume per kidney was not significantly reduced for either the bortezomib cohort or the metformin cohort. Biochemical studies confirmed that bortezomib and metformin had their expected pharmacodynamic effects. We conclude that neither bortezomib nor metformin has significant benefit in this native Tsc2+/− mouse model, which suggests limited benefit of these compounds in the treatment of TSC hamartomas and related lesions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031900
PMCID: PMC3283697  PMID: 22363765

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